What Are The Conditions (Bases) For Muslim Unity?
Imam W. Deen Mohammed
(Editorial Note: The following is the beginning of Imam W. Deen Mohammed's salatul Jumuah Khutbah (lecture) delivered at the McCormick Place Hotel, Chicago, Illinois. This address established the pace for the weekend of activities that made up the First National Convention, September l-3, 1989.)
We ask Allah's assistance. We seek Him for forgiveness. We believe in Him. And we witness that there is none divine, none to be worshipped except Allah alone. There is no partner with Him in the rule of the heavens and the earth. We bear witness that Muhammed is His Messenger, the prayers and the peace be upon him and upon his descendants, upon his Companions, and what follows of this most excellent salutation or salute to our Prophet Muhammed.
Our Lord, surely we have heard a caller calling us to faith, that we should believe in our Lord, and we have believed. Dear Muslims, again I want to direct attention to faith, "Iman." Allah, Most High, says in the Holy Book, His Book, the Qur'an:
"Those who believe and work righteousness, their Lord will guide them because of their faith."
Throughout the Qur'an, the last revealed Book, we are reminded of faith and good deeds. "Those who have faith and good deeds." The word "salih" (good) contains more meaning than is given in the term "good." "Salih" also includes in its meaning righteousness, sincerity, and purity. All of those meanings are in the word that we read in the Qur'an "salih" and in "saliheen," its plural.
"...Except for those who believe and they have good works, righteous works."
The nature of religion is faith. That is the basis of religion -faith. Our Prophet is called a caller to faith. Our Prophet, peace and blessings be on him, first approached his people of Mecca to tell them the burden that Allah had placed upon him to declare the Oneness of God, that Allah is One alone, and that Muhammed is His Messenger. When he declared that to them, he appealed to their capacity for faith and trust.
They had faith in him and had known him to be trustworthy as a person. He appealed to something that was a part of them already. That something was the strong faith and trust they had in Muhammed before he was established or made Allah's Messenger. He said to them, "If I told you an army was approaching, would you believe it?" They said, "Yes!11 Finally, he put it to them, 'There is no God but One God, and Muhammed is His Messenger.1* That disturbed everything.
Faith is the nature of religion. Faith is the character of religion. But faith without good works is of no good. Faith without righteousness is no good. This nullifies the faith. If you don't have righteousness after faith or good deeds after faith, the absence of good deeds nullifies faith.
Reverse the situation and the outcome is the same. If you have good works and no faith, then your good deeds are rejected. Many of us will do good selfishly. But will we do good for everything that is justly due our goodness? Are we into that state of mind where we will do good wherever good is required, whether it is for us. for our family, for a stranger, for the community or a call to good by the household? When we come to the state of mind to respond to the call to do good from wherever, then we have already become believers.
No one having that excellent disposition is a disbeliever. People who will serve goodness everywhere, they believe! You cannot have that kind of strength to answer the call of goodness, whether it is taxing you or placing a burden on you or not, whether you feel a burden of cost or no burden, whether it will make you comfortable or disturb your comfort, whether it will take you from your home out into the battle field or leave you at home to enjoy: No one disposed to behave so righteously is a disbeliever. When you get the mind to answer the call of goodness, no matter whether it is for you or against you, you are already a believer.
People cannot come to that strong position of righteousness without being believers. Now we may differ as to how we explain our belief, but we have to have solid faith to really answer the call of goodness tn the way that Allah wants us to answer the call of goodness. "...Except those who believe and their deeds are righteous deeds."
We are told by Allah in Qur'an, with which I am sure all of you are familiar, that "the whole humanity, the whole people of the world are lost, except those who have faith, believe, have good works, cooperate for the advancement of truth, and cooperate in support of the principle of patience."
Those are the qualities promoted in that short surah (chapter) to show us how to establish ourselves to prosper and not fall. First is faith. And then come good deeds. Again, "cooperate" for the advancement of truth, and cooperate in support of the need in us to exercise patience, to encourage patience on the part of your brother and on your part.
I remember once being visited by a Muslim from Mecca, a Muslim of great stature. He got acquainted with me in a few minutes, as I could tell from how the conversation went. Some people are wise and are quick to see your strong points and your weak ones. He, the visitor, did not stay very long, and upon departing told me, "Stick to patience." It touched me, for I knew I had to do that. And sometimes that is all you can do, for you have done everything else you could. He said, "Us-bir," and I thanked him for it.
"Il-lal latheena amanu wa amalus-salihat "All throughout the Holy Qur'an, you hear that. ''...Except those who have faith and good works."
Again, Dear Muslims, we have to understand that many people claim faith just like many claim greatness. They just came up in an environment that encouraged them to claim faith, and they will talk and sound so faithful. Their talk, "You have to trust in God. Put your trust in God." But when you look at their lifestyle, then you have to say, "Hey?" Their life-style will give a completely different picture. Now we are obligated to live true to our identity as Muslims.
What holds for us that identity? It is the Qur'an. It is the life of the Prophet. Certainly. And it is even the great stars in the early following of the Prophet, his Companions. We look at their life and we look at them and see our religion It is doubt that they hold for us the identity of our religion in practice and in substance.
However, there is more that we want to look at. We are not only to look at the Qur'an in the broad or general picture, at the Book and at Prophet Muhammed as the Prophet. That is good, but we are to have sharp vision. We are to look sharply and pinpoint certain things that distinguish us as Muslims, that give us Muslim identity.
First of all, we believe in One Allah, One God. The Lord of this universe, the Creator of this universe, the Ruler and Master of this universe and of everything that exists is One Lord (God). Secondly, Muhammed is His Servant and His Messenger, the man (human mortal) to whom the Qur'an was revealed. That (Kalimah) also includes a certain clear idea of Muhammed. Just as also we have to have a certain clear idea of Allah, that He is not just God in anybody's language, but that He is the Lord, the Creator, Master and Controller of the whole universe and of everything. He, the Lord (God), is One.
Muhammed (PBUH) is the Last Messenger of Allah, and he is the seal of the prophets. What is meant by "Seal of the Prophets"? This language may be foreign to many of us. We know to seal something means to fix it so that nothing goes out and nothing comes in. "I want to seal this letter, for I am through composing it. I have put in it everything that I want." That is what seal means. Ami Prophet Muhammed is the Seal of the Prophets. Prophethood is sealed with Prophet Muhammed; nothing will go out again and nothing comes in.
Another way to say this is to say "It is concluded." We are to believe, then, in the conclusion of the prophetic progression that began with the first prophet and ends with Muhammed. It started and it must conclude. When we say we believe in Prophet Muhammed as the Prophet, we are also saying that we believe in the conclusion, the finality of prophethood.
The Prophet, himself, described his role in concluding a house that had been built and blocks had been put time after time by the prophets. There was just one block missing, left to be put in its place. The Prophet said of himself that he was missioned to put that last block in place to complete the construction. Praise be to Allah.
That last block is so important. It finishes, it fills up, it concludes, it gives completeness, universality to the life that Allah wants for the human beings on this earth. And in that connection we have also to understand the statement that "it is a comprehensive religion."
I often recall the words of Allah in the Qur'an where we are given the picture of those who are amazed at the broadness, at the extensiveness of the Qur'an. They say, "What kind of revelation is this that leaves out nothing small or great?" The more you read Quran and get familiar with it, and the more you grow in your own intellect, the more you begin to know that and its impact. Nothing has been overlooked in the Qur'an, neither small or great that is important to the life of man, society, and history.
Our lifestyle is important. We have to make our own behavior, our own lifestyle, bear witness that we are Muslims. Not only the tongue is to say I am Muslim, but my life, the way I live, should say to people "I am Muslim." The Prophet, the peace and blessings be on him, addressing the concern of lifestyle said, "Whoever follows the lifestyle of the people of the world is not of us."
We should have a distinct look. We should have a distinct group behavior. Our group behavior should distinguish us from others. And getting back to what I said earlier, that we are not just left with these broad pictures of our identity. There are some specifics that we have to address.
We know also that the Book, the Qur'an, is the Final Book, the Final Revelation, the Last. No revelation is to come after that. I've heard it from sisters and brothers, "Well, Allah reveals to me, Brother." Yes, Allah reveals to the animals, even, but they are not prophets. (To be continued...)